Today, at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, the Italian Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities, Alberto Bonisoli, presented the catalog “Saving Art, Protecting Heritage”, a volume that portrays over 200 works illegally imported into the United States and returned to Italy thanks to the productive collaboration established with US authorities under the 2001 Memorandum of Understanding concerning the imposition of import restrictions on archaeological material.
The Memorandum provides the legal framework for Italian authorities, in particular the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, and US ones, to work to successfully stem the hemorrhage of artistic and cultural value from Italy. The striking images on the pages of the catalog speak clearly to the work carried out together over the course of more than 15 years. The joint cooperation helped to heal an open wound and piece back together a chapter of history that risked being lost forever or at best being the prerogative of but a few rather than universally available to all.
The presentation of the catalog coincided with the exhibition in the Embassy atrium of 20 priceless objects recovered in the United States over the past two years, which included a part of a mosaic floor from one of Emperor Caligula’s ceremonial ships. At the same time, three artefacts recently recovered by US authorities in collaboration with the Italian counterparts, were returned in an official ceremony.
During his speech, the Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities noted that the Memorandum was “an important means to strengthen collaboration between our law enforcement agencies, and an effective instrument for cultural cooperation. The Agreement has provided numerous opportunities for academic research and enabled Italy’s immense cultural heritage to be enjoyed more widely”.
Ambassador Varricchio underlined that today’s event celebrates “our heritage, our culture and the exceptional cooperation that Italy has long established with the United States, a testament to our shared ideas and values and the firm conviction that protecting our heritage is essential for a better future”.
General Fabrizio Parrulli, Commander of the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, noted “the pride and satisfaction” of his corps which works with passion and determination to strengthen the culture of restitution in Italy and abroad.
The event, organized in collaboration with the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, was also attended by tUS authorities: Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs State Department, Marie Therese Royce, Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division, FBI Headquarters, Robert Johnson, and Deputy Executive Associate Director Homeland Security Investigations U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alysa D. Erichs.